Man stole a Dali, then posted it back


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The Independent Culture

It is nice if, after nicking something, you are persuaded by your conscience to give it back.

But as Greek citizen Phivos Istavrioglou discovered in Manhattan, New York, this week, it would have been better not to have committed the act in the first place, particularly if the object of your covetousness was a valuable Salvador Dali painting.

According to New York prosecutors, Mr Istavrioglou, 29, from the Greek capital Athens, was on a trip to Manhattan last summer when he removed a painting by Dali from a wall of an Upper East Side gallery, put it in a shopping bag and walked out with it.

Never mind that it was broad daylight and the surveillance cameras were on.

It was only after returning to Greece and discovering security photos of him were being circulated that he took fright.

So Mr Istavrioglou removed the picture, Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio, from its frame and posted it back to the gallery. The picture was covered in his fingerprints, which police then matched to a juice bottle he had on another occasion lifted from a New York grocery.

Lured back to Manhattan by an undercover policeman posing as a gallery owner offering him a job, Mr Istavriaglou was arrested on Sunday and charged with grand larceny theft.

He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and was released on bail of $100,000 (£65,335) pending a trial.